Jason and Amanda Joy Wells were thirty-something newlyweds who, two weeks after tying the knot in spring 2009, moved into their first home, a beautifully preserved 1949 one owner home filled with charming character (and lots of potential)...not to mention the giant workshop and all the fruiting trees and bushes in the back yard. This site is meant to document the evolution of this house into their home as well as all of the events, occasions and happenings in and around it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Additions

So, I've been meaning to post for a few months now.  A LOT of new activity has been going on at the Wellstead.  First off, we added Napoleon, a three legged Newfoundland pup, into the mix.  He'll be a year old at the beginning of March.  I'm a bad blogger.  What's more, I found out on November 2nd of last year (the day after my birthday) that we are expecting my first child...I am now 22 weeks pregnant and we found out last Tuesday that we are having a BOY!  We've decided on Orion Alexander Wells for his name.  We are clearing out the art loft to turn into his nursery.  He's been kicking up a storm for the last couple of weeks.  I can't imagine what it will be like in a couple of months but, for now, it is my new favorite feeling.

So, I imagine that the food blog posts will be replaced by nursery renovations, DIY projects and  baby posts.  For now, I created a registry website (because that's what I do) that highlights handmade and 2nd hand shower gifts, as well as nursery design inspiration and DIY projects we are planning:

Monday, November 19, 2012

A new culinary challenge

Hubby thinks that maybe he is allergic to gluten...which has been a bit of a mourning process.  For me, it is an awesome new challenge!  Can I replace the bread, biscuits and pancakes with something that is more than a shallow facsimile of the real, glutinous treats?  I think I can. I've been reducing my gluten for the last few months anyway.

My first attempt?  Cheesy garlic biscuits...like the yummy, buttery ones from Red Lobster.  I want to make these for Thanksgiving, so I made a mini test batch.

Before diving into the recipe, I should share a bit about gluten free flours...it's a blend.  After a week of looking for the perfect AND simple GF all purpose flour blend, I found it.  The only tricky part is:  YOU NEED A DIGITAL SCALE.  Trying to mix by volume is a recipe for disaster. SO, here is the Gluten Free All Purpose Flour recipe by weight (in grams and ounces):
200 g/7 oz sorghum flour
200 g/7 oz millet flour
300 g/10 oz sweet rice flour
300 g/10 oz potato starch

There is a catch.  Since these flours don't have gluten, adding xantham gum is what gives the flour that stretchy feel.  The amount is different for what you are baking
Cookies need 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour
Cakes and pancakes need 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins, biscuits and quick breads need 3/4 teaspoon per cup of flour
Breads need 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup of flour
Pizza dough needs 2 teaspoons per cup of flour

So, onto the biscuits.  Except for the cheese, they are vegan.  If you want to go all the way, substitute with a 1/2 cup of shredded Daiya cheese.  So here's the recipe:

Sift together:
1 cup of GF All purpose flour
3/4 tsp. xantham gum
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. baking soda
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt

Cut in:
1/4 cup butter (I used Earth Balance vegan spread)

Stir in:
6 tbsp.  milk (I used unsweetend almond milk)

Fold in:
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Drop small spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 10 minutes
Brush on melted butter and bake for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Hubby tried them...THUMBS UP :)  I will definitely be making these for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How Close Can I Get ~ chicken salad

The drought this summer wore me down to the point where I abandoned the garden...so I have been spending a great deal of time in the kitchen coming up with some interesting veganized dishes.  Last night I made a 'cheezy' broccoli and brown rice soup.  The kiddos said 'this is the best soup EVER' and were quite surprised when I told them there wasn't actually any cheese in it.  Next time I make it, I'll take a picture and post the recipe.  But now on to the reason I'm writing.  I have a new love and it is the jackfruit...young jackfruit, to be more specific.  This tropical fruit has a texture of shredded chicken when cooked and absorbs the flavor of whatever it is cooked with.  AND it is really good for you. 99% of the recipes I've seen online have been sloppy joes or Mexican inspired: carnitas, enchiladas, taco casserole.  I wondered, since the unripe fruit has no real flavor, why limit its potential?  Last weekend we made 'pulled pork' chili and we were AMAZED  how well the jackfruit stood in.  It had the exact same texture - even the 'fatty feel'.

This week I decided to start off with chicken salad...can I successfully veganize this?  Why yes, yes I can.  I came home from the asian market with 10 cans of jackfruit and immediately satrted simmering 3 cans in just enough water to cover the fruit for about 45 minutes (even though they said 2 hours ~ it was getting too soft for my comfort).

After I drained the water, I pressed the excess water out with the bottom of a jar, put it in a bowl and shredded it with 2 forks.  So this is how to prepare the jackfruit.  It's best to do a big batch and refrigerate the rest.  I'll freeze a bit to see if it thaws properly.  After all that, here's my recipe:
2. cups of prepared jackfruit - refrigerated
1 teaspoon of Better Than Bullion veggie broth paste
1 teaspoon of celery salt
1 teaspoon of seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon back pepper
2 ribs of finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons of Vegenaise
2 T. sweet relish
1 t. spicy mustard
2 t. prepared minced garlic (and a bit of juice)

Stir together and make a sammich. Now, this is basically the recipe I've done for years. If you have a favorite chicken or tuna salad recipe, use that, replacing the meat for an equivalent amount of prepared jackfruit. It has the EXACT same texture as chicken!

This is REALLY going to fool some tastebuds!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How close can I get?

So, I decided a month or so ago to cut out processed sugar from my diet, which was less difficult to do than I expected.  I use raw honey in my morning cup of coffee and created a date puree to sweeten oatmeal, yogurt and chai tea...among other things.  Although I cannot claim to be a raw foodist, vegan, gluten free or even vegetarian,  I am incorporating all of these practices into my diet to the point where my meat intake has dropped by 90% and my dairy has dropped by 75%.  I find that I can't be too strict about anything or I end up eating a whole plate of bacon and a cheesecake.  The main goal is to eat as much 'whole foods' as I possibly can (in a meat and potatoes family).  Thankfully my family is curious enough to have a go at my 'concoctions' and over half the time, they really like it, if only for the novelty.  NOW, onto the actual post.

My husband LOVES apple butter...as do I but when the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, not so much.  How could I create something that was raw, free of processed sugars, really healthy AND tasted like apple butter?  Date puree.  I don't have real measurements yet - feel free to try it and let me know - but the test batch measurements were:
  • 1 tablespoon of date puree (1 cup of chopped dates. 1 cup of water. Soak. Puree.)
  • 1 cap full of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 TINY pinch of clove

I stirred it all up, brought it into Jason and asked him what it was.  "Apple butter?".

WIN.  I bet I can do a 'pumpkin' butter style too.

So why should you add dates into your diet?  Here are some of the many benefits of consuming dates:
  • rich source of vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C
  • High in fiber and amino acids
  • Improves digestive health
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Aids in relieving constipation
  • Invigorates a weak nervous system
  • Reverses anemia due to high iron content
  • Reportedly aids in preventing and healing abdominal cancer
  • Increases sexual stamina
  • Aids in lowering LDL cholestorol

SO there you have it.  Tonight, while Jason is at the OU game, I'm gonna make this tangy raw goat cheeze (miso and sauerkraut = interesting)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

More on turmeric

Since my last post, I've been experimenting with fresh turmeric root because I've learned that I MUST have this in my diet.  But first, here are some of the health benefits of this amazing root:
A safe anti-inflammatory
Improves digestion
Lowers cholesterol
Helps prevent gas or bloating
Improves skin conditions (i.e. eczema)
Blood purifier
Liver tonic
Natural antiseptic
...and 2 heavy hitters:
Prevents progression of Alzheimer’s
Helps prevent and reverse cancer (i.e. breast, prostate, skin, lymphoma)

The list is long and impressive.  So HOW do you add this pungent herb into your diet?  Here are three recipes that I came up with.

1. Sweet and creamy turmeric chai 

Steep the following ingredients in 6 cups of water for 20 minutes (a rice cooker works GREAT)
  • 2 'fingers' of fresh turmeric root, grated
  • 3 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • dash of clove powder (or 2 whole cloves)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • a teaspoon of vanilla

After 20 minutes, strain and store in a glass jar.  You can sweeten your chai with anything and add almond milk or cream if you want, but I wanted this beverage to be healing, so I made a date puree to sweeten mine:
blended up equal amounts - 1 cup each - of dates (or date sugar) and boiling water and puree.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

I like a super creamy 1/2 & 1/2 type creamer in my beverages so I made a cashew cream:
Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and add 1 cup of filtered water and puree.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

The purees yield enough for 8-10 chai teas, using about 2 tablespoons of each per drink.  It's a bit of work upfront, but easy breezy after that.  This combo makes a great cold beverage too.  This morning, I didn't fel like having coffee (which is ODD), so I added green tea to my chai...and YUMMO.

2. Savory turmeric broth

Steep the following ingredients in 6 cups of water for 20 minutes
  • 2 'fingers' of fresh turmeric root, grated
  • 3 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh oregano or 2 tablespoons of dried herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of miso (I use brown barley aged miso)
Miso is alive, so be sure to let the brew cool off to the point where you can hold a finger in it for at least three seconds without burning before adding it in.  This condiment has some pretty amazing benefits as well!  This broth (sans turmeric) has been my standard cold/flu prevention tonic over the winter months.  My whole family came down with the flu a couple of winters back and I made a giant pot of this broth.  I was the only one to not get sick and the others got over it faster than usual.  BTW, strain the broth, if you'd like

3. Turmeric smoothie

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 inch finger of fresh turmeric root
  • 2 tablespoons of date puree
  • 1 cup of coconut milk...or your favorite
  • 1/2 a cup of orange juice (or a spoon of concentrate and 1/3 cup of water)
Puree and enjoy.  I don't like this one frozen but if you do, slice and freeze a banana.  The o.j. is really important to the overall flavor of this recipe, so don't skimp on it or the turmeric will overpower the drink.

So there you go!  Feel free to share your thoughts and recipes :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

I made a magic potion

I'm a bad blogger, I know.  But this entry should make up for the long post drought. I recently made up a concoction to hopefully treat a recurring skin irritation.  I worked like a charm.  A week later, our pup - Napoleon - had a nasty skin reaction to the topical flea/tick treatment from the vet.  I decided to put some of my concoction on the giant 'pustules' and they immediately began healing. QUICKLY.  A week later, my husband had a skin thingy pop up on his cheek that usually takes a week to heal up...same story.  And now, friend came over last night with a swollen poison ivy patch on his arm.  He texted this morning asking if he could have some more of the concoction because it's "working great".  It also makes a FANTASTIC salad dressing base. SO, here is the recipe:
  • 1 cup of EV olive oil
  • 1 TBSP of turmeric root, shredded (Natural Grocers carries it)
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano, chopped
  • a few turns of freshly ground black pepper

The longer it sits, the more potent it becomes.  All of these ingredients have some sort of skin benefit when applied topically. I don't know if dried oregano or turmeric powder will be as effective, but I'm sure it's better than nothing.  (add a 1/2 tbsp of each if using dry ingredients). 

The salad dressing is pretty simple too..I only make enough for each salad that serves 4 people.  I've never actually measured the ingredients out, but this is my best guess:
  • 1 TBSP of miso (i used 18 month aged barley miso)
  • 1 TBSP of water to mix into miso before adding remaining ingredients
  • 1 TBSP of oil concoction
  • 1 TBSP of Veganaise (or mayo...yogurt might work)
  • 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar

One thing to note:  turmeric can stain things yellow and will leave a slightly yellow tint to your skin where applied.  Just sayin.  If you make this recipe and it speeds healing for somthing, I would LOVE to hear about it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's that time again

Have I mentioned that I'm addicted to Pinterest? Yesterday morning I found this idea that somebody pinned. I realized that our neighbor offered us his old, cracked up birdbath...it won't hold water but it will sure hold plants.

We haven't had much of a winter, so the garden is exploding with spinach sprouts and herbs that made it through since fall.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From the Archives

Jason found the poem a good friend of mine wrote for our wedding...had to share it.

For Jason and Amanda's Wedding Day

When you are brushing your
teeth together, when your palms
are pressed against her sleeping limbs,
or when she is on the other side of the kitchen
painting the cabinets, remember:
This is not a woman who believes in accidents.
Every red balloon, every brush stroke, every
clipped smile from magazine was on purpose.

Her left hand is hard wired to the cosmos, her
right hand is courier to the earth. She drew the
outline of your being before she ever spoke your
name. She didn’t so much pick you as she
discovered you. Which makes you a hell of a man.

This is how I know that the two of you are
magic makers, craftsmen of the Life Stuff.

Your house is a landing pad
A front yard full of precious coincidences,
serendipity swings on your porch, the
faucets pour out only affirmations
But see,
Some days, you will go out into the loud, loud
world and come home broken.
Some days you will look at each other and
see nothing but rusty mouth and snapped
hinges. Remnants of a whole being.
That is why there is a workshop in your backyard.

On those days, you both go into that old building,
you flip on the light and spread all of your
materials out on the counter. You count the snappy
tongues, the rolled eyes. You sort the puffed chests
from the bruised hearts. You sand all the coward
edges down until you standing in a pile of the dust
you were made from. You get out the brave glue.
You get out the first glances, the emails,
you draw pictures of that ice storm that crashed
the two of you together. Whisper thank you
to each stumble and mistake that brought you
to these humble arms where you know that
everything is exactly as it should be.

You chose this community like we chose you
and we have plenty of duct tape, pipe cleaners
and gallons of understanding, we’ve got you.
Because this big, big Universe
doesn’t believe in accidents either,
it only believes in love and art that is built from it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas - Mom and Sis DON'T LOOK

I am so excited about this gift that I HAVE to share it...but SERIOUSLY, MOM AND TAYLOR DON'T LOOK.


What is it?  'A piece of art' you might say....but it's something else too.

Give up?



My mom, sister and I have celebrated Calendar Day for many years...even now that they live in Portland, I still get a text on the first of each month celebrating the new beginnings and ripe possibilities. 

 During my search for cool made-by-us gift ideas, I came across a dry-erase calendar made from paint swatches: http://go.tipjunkie.com/dc/1979/theaestheticwriter.blogspot.com/2011/10/diy-dry-erase-calendar.html  I KNEW this was the gift to make for my mom and sister.  Once I started digging through my paint swatches, I realized that I either had to go raid the paint dept. at the hardware store or adapt the idea.

What I ended up doing was re-creating segments out of a Valspar color grouping.  Then my husband printed it on the 48 inch printer we've got lying around.

We decided to make a big one for our public creative studio.  I'll post pics when we get it installed :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oats to the Rescue!

I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm super excited about this little green terrycloth pouch.  Jason whipped up some to go with a Christmas gift and we had a few left over.  So there is the set up.

We were heading out to Tillie's birthday party yesterday and the shirt I wanted to wear was not quite acceptable.  It wouldn't necessarily classify as dirty but it smelled.....off.  I REALLY wanted to wear this shirt.  What to do?  I filled one of the terrycloth pouches with a cup of old fashioned rolled oats...

...and added a few drops of my favorite essential oil and popped it in the dryer with the shirt for a few minutes.  You know what?  IT WORKED.  Not by masking the smell with another smell...the oats actually sucked the smell up!  This will certainly not become a replacement for actually washing clothes, but in a pinch, this trick works like a charm.

Don't have a terrycloth velcro pouch lying around?  Just use a sock that has lost its twin!  Pour a cup of oats in it (add a couple drops of amber, sandalwood or your favorite essential oil, if you'd like) and tie it up tight.  A few things to note:

  • Don't use it on wet clothes or the oats may turn into oatmeal
  • Make sure the sock has NO holes in it
  • Don't use the packets of Maple & Brown Sugar - or any other flavored quick oats.  The flavor powder may seep out of the sock and yuck up the dryer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Crafting

I've been up in the art loft all morning knocking out Christmas gifts...I'm biting my lip. It's all I can to to NOT post what we've done so far!
Here is a gift that Jason and I made from last year.

Every year I say that I want to make the things I crafted for Christmas to sell...this year I've got some G-R-E-A-T ideas and it's looking like a public art studio is in our near future. I will keep you posted!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Update from the Man Cave

Jason and I went, over 4th of July weekend, to visit my family that lives in Vermont. My father is a pen turner who LOVES to share what he knows...and Jason LOVED learning about turning pens. Now we have a whole corner of the workshop converted into a wood turning shop. Here are some of Jason's latest creations, just in time for Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Never Done.

Thanksgiving was fast approaching and we were hosting the family meal as well as having friends stay with us - who are AMAZING cooks. Our kitchen is not the best room in the house. The bright turquoise color I chose was a serious lapse in decorating judgement and our spices were in complete disorder. Last Sunday night, Jason and I filled all the pretty chrome storage jars we bought that afternoon up with the random bags of beans, rice and dehydrated veggies that were piled up on the bottom rack. This opened up Pandora's box. After weeding out old spices we re-jarred and labeled everything and added an awesome floating shelf above the stove to hold our 'top shelf' spices, oils and condiments. It was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L...except that it made the wall color even more out of place.

I woke up at 7:30 the next morning and went straight to the hardware store to pick up paint. By the time our out-of-town friends showed up that night, we had a warm and inviting kitchen...and we cooked up some delicious feasts!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home Away from Home

Jason took me down to visit friends in Austin for my Birthday a couple of weeks ago. By the end of the trip, we all shook hands in going in halvsies on an old Airstream trailer. Our plan is to gut it and turn it into a dorm/lounge that we can use on the Wells family land near lake Texoma. Two weeks later, let me introduce to you our 1971 27 ft Overlander Airstream that is currently settled in our back yard. It's been gutted and scrubbed down. Now for the lipstick and rouge~

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Thank God for soaker hoses....and my husband who bought them. It's not the prettiest garden, but it's the prettiest one I've ever had a hand in creating. We've got peas, beets, sweet potatoes and a swiss chard that somehow snuck its way into one of our seed packs or transplants.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Circle of Life

One of the things I love about our home are the toads that come back every year. Lately I've noticed these two...they are inseparable. Maybe they will create a new crop of toads :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Art Loft

I have always had some sort of space where my art supplies are stored...and some sort of space where I can make art. The problem was, the space where I stored supplies and the space I made art in were two separate spaces.

We have a little loft in our house that was built over the garage. It is tucked away which made it the perfect dumping ground. Anything that we could not find a home for ended up there...including the cat box and the 600 National Geographic magazines dating back to 1951.

Over Labor day weekend, we changed all that. We found homes for the randoms, slapped a new coat of paint on the walls and ceiling and gave ALL of my creative supplies a well organized new home. I see ALOT of art making in my future :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Food Fun

After picking up some yum yums from the farm market yesterday and raiding our basil (the only successful crop in the garden this year) we decided to make some pizza dough and have a build-your-own-pizza fun night...


Saturday, July 30, 2011


We've got three young squirrels that live in one of our pecan trees in the back yard. Rather than fighting with them, I gave them a section of the wild garden bed to create wallows in so they can keep cool. They took over our fern too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How close can I get? - Goddess Dressing

My name is Amanda and I am an Annie's Goddess Dressing addict. Jason will wake up and find me drinking it straight from the bottle in the middle of the night...which would be fine except it's REALLY expensive and REALLY REALLY high in fat. I enjoy preparing food...especially if I add the challenge of also making it gluten free, lighter, healthier or vegan. Since this dressing is already vegan, my goals were to make it lighter and, thereby, healthier.

I found some recipes where people used tofu to replace the weight that the fats had, but they would always preface: "It's not quite like the real thing, but...". I'm aiming for 'as close as possible". So, instead of using tofu, I opted to use chia seed gel in place of the oil and a some of the tahini. Chia is an AMAZING salad dressing base that is incredibly nutritious. Here is the recipe:

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetend almond/soy/coconut milk (OR 2 tablespoons of low-fat Veganaise & 2 tablespoons of water - added 3/8/12)
  • 5 small green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2-3 fresh garlic cloves (I used 3 because I like the extra bite)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (not critical)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

I use a Magic Bullet for this recipe – it's the perfect size for small batches of dressing and I can keep the dressing in the container I blended it in. That being said, a blender or food processor will also do the job.

  1. Start off by putting the water and chia seed in the receptacle. Put a lid on and shake the seeds up to prevent clumps. Let sit for 20 minutes. (the longer you let it sit before blending the seeds, the thicker the liquid will become)
  2. after the chia seeds and water sets up into a gel, blend for about 30 seconds
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for another 30 seconds...do not over blend.

It will initially be runny, but after an hour in the fridge, the chia gel will thicken back up.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wicking Beds

I've heard people who come to visit Oklahoma say that we seem a bit schizophrenic...it's because of the weather. A common local saying is: "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute". Which is usually true...but we are in the midst of the worst drought and heatwave in Oklahoma history. Jason recently bought me enough soaker hoses to fill all of our garden beds...partly to save on water and partly because it's just TOO HOT water for an hour every night and partly because our city has banned watering during daylight hours. That means I get up before dawn (no thank you) or contend with the mosquitoes after sunset. The garden is doing okay. It's been an average of 103 degrees for the last month...and it's only rained (for an hour) twice. It would have been nice to be able to collect that water where it counts. Enter: Water Wicking Garden Beds. They are built using the same philosophy as a self watering pot but on a huge scale. You can either put water in it or store rain water that falls into the bed:

.............................................(image found at: http://www.urbanfoodgarden.org)

Below is a great Youtube video that records the whole process:

...and I found a how-to with basic specs on building a wicking bed here

Too bad it's too hot to actually make one. It looks like our cinder-block composter and the greenhouse frame will have to wait until September.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Close Can I Get?

Jason and I recently went up to Vermont to visit my father and family. We ate A LOT of cheese while we were there...if you are a cheese lover, Vermont is the cheese Mecca  you should travel to at least once in your life. My sister, Haley, had recently become an ethical vegan...so she just looked at the cheese longingly. She might love cheese as much as I do, but I thought 'If she can do it, I can try' and when I got home I bought a pack of Daiya cheese. I ate it like Charlie ate his chocolate bar...man, that cheese is expensive. So I decided to search online for a vegan cheddar cheese recipe. I found one that had a long string of "YUMEEEEE" comments, so I decided to give it a try. The flavor, when melted, is AMAZING and the texture is indistinguishable from real melted cheese, except for the tiny chunks of cashews that the food processor couldn't blend. (post note: if you soak the cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes - not offsetting the water called for in the recipe - it will cream amazingly)

I don't think I will ever become a total vegan...I prefer to apply the 80/20 ratio. This will keep me from going on a cheese binge that will require a colonic when I'm done. Enough of that...here's the recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/vegan-sharp-cheddar-cheese-130826

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm in Trouble

I think Jason is going to hide the dehydrator at some point... I've been dehydrating EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. We may need to remodel the kitchen to accommodate all the jars of dried pretties.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lunch with a friend

I had lunch with my friend Whitney yesterday. I brought over all that I could harvest from my own garden and put it together with yummies from her garden...

We had an exceptional lunch and goodie swap... on the menu: veggie packed tuna salad sanwiches and blueberry kombucha tea.

She shared what she knew about Kombucha and I shared what I knew about chia (the sauce on top of the sandwiches was a veganaise/chunky mustard/chia seed spread {yum}.

I will be posting more about Kombucha and chia in upcoming posts...so stay tuned. I'll post more after Memorial weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Multiple Defenses

I just returned from the farmer's market with a lovely little gem of wisdom. Plant collars work pretty well but aren't a surefire defense against cutworms if you put it on with a cutworm sleeping at the base of the plant, which is what happened to another plant last night. I discovered that cutworms cut down a plant by circling the base. If you put a toothpick or scewer at the base of the plant, it can't fully circle it! Problem solved...now I need to find out what is stripping the leaves off my pepper plants.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lipstick and Rouge

Our neighbor, Dock, gave us this chair last year. I am enamoured with the aging process of things that rust and get round with time. However, rust has a way of making things fall apart. Rustoleum to the rescue!

I was afraid to sit in this chair in clean clothes, but now it's my favorite seat in the garden.

Garden Tea

Last summer, during a dry spell, the plants' main water source was city water. Although they were grateful for some moisture, they didn't look too healthy - with all the chlorine and hard water stuff...especially the rhododendrons. Lately, I've been researching compost tea which gave me a great idea. The instructions state: if you are going to use city water, set it out for 24 hours to let the able chemicals evaporate - like chlorine.

There was a small pale of water that was brown due to the leaf litter steeping in it for a few days. Instead of throwing it out, I watered a nearby plant with it. It seemed to REALLY like this brew...so I found a bucket and filled it with water and leaf litter to set out overnight. Every morning I'll give the herbs and veggies a cupful of water...they have responded amazingly well!

Not only am I conserving the amount of water I give them, I'm giving them a mild nutritional boost every morning...like a power drink. (post note: the mosquitos REALLY love the tea too, so put a wet towel or a screen over the bucket so you don't have to share your yard with blood suckers)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Simple Solutions.....

...that make me feel silly for not thinking of them sooner.

Last year, I went to war with what I finally discovered to be a cut worm. This is a completely illogical creature as it only cuts off stems. It does not eat anything...it just enjoys destroying property. Like this:

So I called Mike McGrath from "You Bet Your Garden" on NPR and he suggested 'plant collars', which is a can or plastic bottle with the top and bottom cut off and buried halfway in the ground around tender, young plants. I have been having friends save bottles for me and I've tediously repeated this 'plant collar' process on dozens of my vegetable transplants.

This morning I was planting new lemon and spicy globe basils to replace the ones that were stripped (because I DID NOT put collars around them) and I decided to used some of the little plastic pots that have been piling up under my garden bench. As I was cutting off the bottom, I glanced over at the new plants to realize that I would be taking the plants out of one plastic pot and stuffing them into another - damaging the roots in the process - and it occurred to me: "why not just cut the bottom out of the pot it's in and bury that one?" Duh.

A cut worm barrier needs to be a minimum of about 2 inches above the surface and two inches below. After I cut the bottom out, I gently pressed the plant down a bit:

After planting it, I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of pre-minced bottled garlic around the outside and spritzed the plants with the soap/baking soda/olive oil soap spray (last spring blog entry) with a bit of fish emulsion mixed in for good measure. I will keep you posted on how that works.

The collars reduce the amount of water it can soak in from the surrounding soil, so it is important to mulch with well crunched up leaves inside the collar (making sure you don't create a cutworm bridge) and often check the inside soil for dampness. Once the plant matures, you can cut the collar off with a pair of shears. Another option I read about is to affix two Popsicle sticks around a stem with twine. I'll try that out and keep you posted ~

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A trellis for our Tomato Tree

Jason and I found a HUGE young tomato plant at the Cleveland County Farm Market today. As I was carrying it around, people came up and asked "What kind of tree is that?". I've been learning about how to prune tomatoes to create a thick bushy plant and felt like this would be a great one to prune. Jason wasn't too keen on the idea and our tomato cages were not big (or pretty) enough to cage this beauty in so I told him I wouldn't prune it if he made me a trellis tower...so he did :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Jason and I went out to a little town near Lake Eufala - Checotah - to do a sign installation. I've been through this town many times and never saw the town until today. While Jason went to work, I decided to walk around the neighborhood and check out the front and backyard gardens scattered around. One garden really pulled me in...I stood at the fence for quite a few moments soaking in the roses and vegetables and statuettes and other bobbles and ornaments decorating this back yard. An older man turned the corner from a hidden part of the yard and saw me gawking at his space...he invited me in to take a look AND BOY WAS IT AWESOME.

I followed him around, asking "what's this?", "what's that?", "what does this do?", "what's that for?" He was so gracious and come to find out he is a master rosarian who is (or was) president of the Tulsa Rose Society. After 20 minutes or so of him showing me around, Jason pulled up to the yard and joined in on the tour. Other than rose gardening, Troy (that's his name) had quite a vegetable garden...here is what I found so exciting...all of the vegetables were covered in these jars:

These are gallon size glass pickle jars that he cut the bottoms out of. Once he planted the seeds, he put the jars on top to create a micro climate. He was taking all of the jars off today, now that the last cold spell is behind us. I don't know if you can tell how big the tomato plants are in the picture, but they are twice as big as they would be - even if they were started in a greenhouse at the same time!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Green house

I have been trying to post for a month and could not find the time! So, I will be retroactively filling in the gap between here and the February post. The biggest upgrade so far this spring is the addition of our greenhouse...this will be a lengthy process and may not be complete until it's time to take the plants in for the fall, but it is already becoming a functional staging and storing area for spring gardening. We bought a metal greenhouse frame last fall, but recently decided to create a wooden frame around it to hold windows and the awesome door we found at the Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity Re-store when we went to pick up the two pallets of re-purposed bricks....here is the inspiration: The greenhouse will be attached to the east side of our workshop in front of a window that is near the workshops gas furnace so we can easily warm the plants during the super cold nights. The north side will have no windows (which will help keep the brunt of the winter wind from getting in) and will, instead, have hangers for 'shovels and rakes and other implements of destruction' (name that movie). The south side will hold a very open screen door that lets in ALOT of light with a clear plastic insert for the colder months. The east side will have a bank of four windows that we will be scouring The Restore for and the ceiling will be framed in corrugated plastic sheeting. Enough of the explanation...here's our progress:

It was so hot Saturday before last that we decided to start the digging after sunset...

The next day we put in and leveled the gravel and sand, then laid the landscape fabric...

We started laying the bricks last Saturday night...

and finished on Sunday afternoon...

by Sunday evening, we had the inner frame set up and all the pots, soil and amendments set up in their new spaces....

Next up is the stem wall and frame :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

First Toad

It's started warming up enough to begin clearing some of the leaves out of the beds. I lifted up an overturned pot in one of the shady beds and found what looks like Jim Jimminy (Jason's toad) hanging out under there. Last year we didn't see any toads till mid April, but I wasn't digging around quite as much.

Friday, March 11, 2011

We planted a variety of little bulbs all over the property last fall....they've all started popping up through the dead leaves.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Adding a bit of Reality

I spent the day refining my Vision. Jason likes seeing examples...so do I.